HIIT workouts will help you burn fat long after your workout ends—especially if you've got a big meal ahead

By Sara Angle
Corbis Images

You can't avoid fatty foods all the time (because hello, donuts), but how and when you exercise could actually help to combat some of the damage inflicted by a high fat meal. A short burst of high-intensity exercise before eating high fat foods is better for blood vessel function than moderate-intensity exercise, according to new research from the University of Exeter.

In their study, participants did either eight minutes of high-intensity interval cycling or 25 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling before consuming a milkshake. (Check out more Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training.) The HIIT workout not only prevented the decrease in blood vessel function, but improved blood vessel function, while the moderate-intensity bikers simply inhibited the damage. When you eat foods high in "bad" fats, like trans fat and saturated fat, harmful LDL cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in your arteries and can clog blood vessels. This impairs the function of your blood vessels, limiting the amount of oxygen-rich blood that flows through your body. Impaired function in the blood vessels is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases.

Think a side of fries or a bacon cheeseburger every once in a while won't do you in? Blood vessel damage from fatty foods can actually occur in the hours after consuming a high fat meal, say researchers.

So the next time you're headed to a happy hour you know there will nachos at, squeeze in a HIIT workout before you indulge. You'll protect your blood vessels and reap the added benefit of burning calories after your workout. You'll start burning off the fried, cheesy goodness before you even start!

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